Amnesty International says Gambia reps hope for democracy

Friday, May 03, 2019

The Regional Director of Amnesty International West and Central Africa region, Mrs. Evelyn Petrus-Barry has told press corps that her delegation came out of the meeting with His Excellency, President Adama Barrow, with very good hopes that progressive things would happen in The Gambia.

Mrs. Perus-Barry said they know that Gambians and the government know better in terms of what ought to obtain in a democratic society like the new Gambia. However, as an international human rights organisation, Amnesty International looks at international standards of human rights from the Universal Periodic Review process through which The Gambia underwent some two years ago, in terms of what obtains in the country.

“We understand that there are challenges and limitations that The Gambia faced. As a human rights organisation, Amnesty International and partners will try to support the government in moving forward the human rights agenda as much as we can,” she declared.

Their meeting centered on a set of five key priorities that were presented to the President and there is hope through the new constitution for what they discussed with the President.

Among these priorities are the abolition of the death penalty, the issue of the Freedom of Information and the Public Order Acts (dealing with the issue of demonstrations, Women’s rights Harmful traditional practices and discrimination against women.

“Considering the progressive nature of the ‘new’ Gambia, it would be a good thing for The Gambia to lead the way for the abolition of the death penalty… we also discussed about women who were raped, and we know it happened a lot among many human rights violations of the former regime. These women may even get children with disabilities. We thought it is important that we get abortion (on the table) for such special cases for a start,” she explained.

The international human rights advocate argued that The Gambia today is well-off than it had been under the 22years of tyranny, and from what they understand, it gives them very good hope of the country being “very progressive”. However, as part of a process, they are mindful that all of these cannot be attained in one day.

Harmful traditional practices, discrimination against women, and the truth reconciliation commission were other agendas discussed with the President. For the TRRC, the president assured that it is a very independent process from government.

“However, we thought it is important to have processes of healing, remedy, reparation, reconciliation, closures, memorials for the victims. We came out very happy with the discussions,” she added.